Ray Sponaugle

Ray Sponaugle, an esteemed bluegrass fiddler who has been playing for more than 60 years, is the 2006 Ohio Heritage Fellow in Performing Arts. Born in West Virginia, Sponaugle lives in Newton Falls, a small town located between Akron and Youngstown. He is a long-time mainstay of the bluegrass scene in northeast Ohio—in fact, he helped create that scene, playing with bands like the West Virginia Travelers in the 1950s and 1960s. A two-time winner of the Mid-American Fiddling Contest in Columbus, Sponaugle has recorded a pair of albums—Traditional Fiddlin’: My Best To You (1988) and My Kind of Fiddling (1977).

Besides his excellence as a fiddler, Sponaugle has made a significant contribution in another way. He has been a mentor for dozens of bluegrass musicians over the years, including a young musician from Warren named Jerry Douglas, who is now the most famous resophonic guitarist in the world. A Grammy Award-winning recording artist and producer, Douglas says of Ray Sponaugle, “He was an important role model for me, onstage and off. He was there for me, always giving of his time to a kid who was just trying to find a way to express himself.”

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Ray Sponaugle in March, 2017.

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